Local Talent

Putting 826 Seattle's Journalism Club to Work

The nonprofit’s bright young writers interview Portland songwriter Laura Gibson. Dolphins come up, naturally.

Edited by Laura Dannen With 826 Seattle October 17, 2012

Editor’s note: The Little Big Show benefit concert series returns to the Neptune this weekend with performances by Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit and Portland singer-songwriter Laura Gibson. Since ticket sales from this show support 826 Seattle, we thought it would be fun to have the nonprofit’s student journalism club show off their skills. Below is an interview with Laura Gibson by contributors Jack (age 9), Aaron (age 8), Elih (age 12), Zoe (age 12), Rowan (age 12), Erina (age 9), and Stella (age 10). This is their first clip. —LD

Portland's Laura Gibson is an inspirational musician. She thinks of herself as a singer-songwriter influenced by many different styles of music. Some people label her as folk, and some people label her as alternative music. She says that lyrics are very important to her, so she tends to work in a style that can highlight her words and give her space to play with her voice. She follows her instincts.

Laura has played with a lot of bands, including the Decemberists, Calexico, Damien Jurado, and Laura Veirs, and toured the world. She hopes to go to Iceland or South America next, but she still thinks about her home state. Laura made a song called “La Grande” about a little town in northeastern Oregon. La Grande is a town with lots of history, and its people are very proud of their landscape and culture. “It made me think of my own life and the ways I assert myself in the world, and how short my time will be in the grand scheme,” Laura said. “It's inspired by a specific place, but maybe more by my reflection of my own fears and hopes within that place.”

When Laura realized there was an 826 Seattle, she immediately wanted to perform a benefit show on its behalf. 826 Seattle is very happy to have her looking over them.

Who was your inspiration to be a singer-songwriter?

I have been inspired by so many people, musicians and non-musicians (I could probably list more poets that have influenced my music than bands.) If I had to choose a biggest songwriting influence, it would probably be Leonard Cohen.

Which of your relatives play musical instruments, and do you ever play together? 

I didn't grow up in a musical family and picked up the guitar pretty late in life. I was the first one in my family to play music, that I know of. So sadly, I was never able to have family sing-alongs growing up. But recently, my 13-year-old nephew has been playing drums and guitar. I've had him join me onstage for shows, which has been so fun. He's worked really hard, and is a pretty impressive musician at age 13. 

What instruments do you like to play?

I suppose my favorite instrument is my voice. I really love singing and exploring the different corners of my voice. I also love playing guitar, which was my first instrument, and dabbling in other instruments like accordion and vibraphone. 

What kind of music do you like to listen to? 

I like to listen to folk and pop music form other countries and cultures. I love soul music from the old Stax session recordings, Delta blues music, and I love my friends' bands in Portland. 

What kinds of bands from other countries do you like?

Oh gosh. There are so many. I love Fela Kuti from Nigeria, Asha Bhosle and Kisore Kumar from India, Caetano Veloso and Antonio Carlos Jobim from Brazil, Stereolab from France [sic: England].

How much do you like dolphins, as compared to how much you like eating pizza? (Not eating dolphins, though!)

Both pizza and dolphins are magical, amazing things. I eat pizza all the time, but I very rarely get to see a dolphin—so if I were given the choice today, between a pizza and a dolphin, I would choose the dolphin. 

Little Big Show 4 with First Aid Kit and Laura Gibson
Oct 20 at 9, Neptune Theatre, $15

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